Prevent food poisoning at your summer picnics
Summer picnics and cookouts are common sources for food poisoning. Symptoms of food-borne illness closely resemble the flu and include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Young children are particularly at risk because of their small body size and weaker immune systems.
You can decrease the risk of food poisoning by properly preparing, serving and storing food.
When preparing food:
- Wash your hands with hot water and soap before you begin. Wash your hands again if you handle raw meat, poultry, fish or egg products.
- Clean and sanitize cutting boards and knives used on raw meat before reusing them.
- Scrub all fruits and vegetables with water to remove pesticides and dirt. Remove the outer leaves of leafy greens such as spinach or lettuce.
- Do not thaw raw fish in the refrigerator for more than 24 hours.
- Thaw frozen foods under lukewarm running water, in the refrigerator or in the microwave. Meats thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately.
- Raw poultry or ground beef will keep one to two days. Raw red meat will keep three to five days.
- Cook all meat and poultry at a minimum oven temperature of 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook thoroughly until the center reaches 156 degrees Fahrenheit.
When serving food:
- Never put cooked food on a dish that was holding raw meat, poultry or fish.
- Avoid cross-using utensils between dishes.
- Avoid eating raw eggs or cookie dough and cake mix containing raw eggs.
- Do not leave eggs or mayonnaise at room temperature for extended periods of time.
- Promptly and thoroughly clean the kitchen, pans, dishes and utensils after every meal.
When storing food:
- Keep the refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Promptly refrigerate leftovers in containers with lids that shut tightly.
- Eat leftover within three to five days or freeze.
- Eat frozen leftovers within two months.
- Do not freeze uncooked fruit or vegetables, hard-cooked eggs or mayonnaise.
- Check expiration dates on food labels and throw away anything questionable.
- Put items that go in the refrigerator and freezer away first when you return from the store.
- Keep raw meat separate from read-to-eat foods.
- Put the kitchen sponge in the microwave for one minute or run it through the dishwasher to prevent bacteria growth.